NAUGATUCK — More than 30 businesses throughout the borough will receive letters in coming weeks warning them to comply with the borough’s sign regulations or face a possible fine.
The Zoning Commission directed Zoning Enforcement Officer Steven Macary last week to investigate and crack down on sign violations, which include flashing signs, free-standing signs that exceed 120 square feet, and signs on borough property.
“A lot of the places, I did not know about until it was brought to my attention,” Macary said.
Macary has worked with the Public Works Department to remove signs from borough property, but is also turning his attention to signs that are too large and flashing neon signs. Business owners with pennants and the long, thin banners outside of car dealerships are also being warned, Macary said.
Macary is sending out letters that cite the regulation being violated and give owners 14 days to comply or possibly face the standard fine of $150 per day.
Many business owners bought their signs online without the required permit from the zoning office, so they were not told at the time that they were not in compliance, Macary said.
“If they’re going to buy from a sign store, 99.9 percent of installers come in to the office,” Macary said.
Alex Yilmaz, manager of A-1 Pizza on Rubber Avenue, said he bought the restaurant’s flashing sign more than two years ago from a salesman for $1,200. Yilmaz said he never thought about needing a permit and that a friend of his who owns a pizzeria in West Haven bought the exact same sign.
The narrow screen mounted in the window rotates between designs and messages such as “Fast Delivery,” “Slices,” “Subs” and “Help Wanted.”
Yilmaz said he likes the sign because it grabs the attention of passers-by, but he is not angry at the possibility of having to take it down. He can also change the settings so the words on the sign do not flash or change, he said.
“If we gotta knock it down, we’re gonna knock it down,” Yilmaz said. “I would like it to stay.”
Ayash-Man Restaurant, up the road from A-1 Pizza, also has a flashing neon sign, as does Mario’s Pizzeria on Cherry Street, although Monday the sign at Mario’s just read “Open” and did not change.
The Zoning Commission has been discussing sign regulations for years and is close to making several changes to rules governing their size, color, and location, Macary said. The regulations will be discussed again at the Dec. 19 meeting.
The commission’s interest in signs was renewed last year after people began loading major borough roads and islands with advertisements.
Other towns, including Prospect and Watertown, are also cracking down on illegal signs. Macary said he noticed how good area towns look when the rules are stringently enforced.
“I kind of want the town to look good,” he said. “I really do.”